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Reptilian Arts Expanding With George Edwards Fund

Posted on 7/13/2023

734 words

 |  4 min. read

Mechanic Street Store Ships Locally-Bred Bugs and Lizards Nationally

Reptilian Arts Rohman With A Turtle
Rohman Taylor, proprietor of Reptilian Arts, holds a turtle in his retail space.

From his 25,000-square-foot Mechanic Street storefront, Rohman Taylor is continuing his family’s legacy of service in Allegany County, albeit in a less traditional manner. Rohman owns Reptilian Arts, a pet supply store that, as the name suggests, specializes in reptiles and insects. He plans to expand further with the recent receipt of $15,000 from the state’s Senator George C. Edwards Fund.

Rohman has had a passion for reptiles since childhood. He grew up with fire-belly toads, green-eyed tree frogs, and other snakes and turtles. As a teenager, he began breeding leopard geckos in the basement of his family home.

Reptilian Arts View Of Retail Space
Reptilian Arts offers a variety of products and services for reptile and amphibian owners.

“At first, I had two geckos I bred,” recalls Rohman. “In time, that grew from a few dozen geckos to a few hundred. At our peak, we bred more than 2,000 geckos in a year. It took off from there, and I moved operations from my parents’ basement to our building on Mechanic Street, which had all the space we needed.”

Having a dedicated space was critical, says Rohman. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Reptilian Arts began as an e-commerce site. They renovated the storefront starting in the summer of 2020 and opened to the public in the spring of 2021. In addition to reptiles like geckos and snakes, Rohman and the Reptilian Arts team breed feeder insects like mealworms, roaches, and hornworms. The store also carries an array of colorful tarantulas.

Reptilian Arts Breeding Room
Reptilian Arts' insect breeding operations exports quality reptile feed to stores all over the country.

“Everything we have in our storefront, we also ship. We use an overnight service and adjust the box’s climate to the animal’s needs,” explains Roman. “Breeding our insects in-house is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. People would probably be surprised to learn that we breed millions of insects in climate-controlled environments in our warehouse. We’re also a wholesale supplier for zoos, companies like Petsmart and Petco, and smaller pet shops nationwide. Our wholesale customers might buy 10,000 mealworms and sell them by the dozen in-store. Breeding our insects helps keep costs down.”

“We always knew that an emphasis on online operations would suit our needs the best”

The small business ships about 1,500 orders weekly. Because they often send live animals to customers, they do not ship internationally due to high costs. Rohman says the company employs nine people and expects to hit double digits for staffing this year.

Rohman explains that by focusing on e-commerce, they reach the most customers possible.

“We always knew that an emphasis on online operations would suit our needs the best,” states Rohman. “If we only operated locally, that would limit our customer base. I can automate orders easily and reach a wide base of customers. Almost all of our sales are from consumers out-of-state. New York, Texas, and California represent most customers, so we generate many sales outside Maryland.”

Reptilian Arts Rohman In Insect Breeding Room
Online sales across the country drive Reptilian Arts' feeder insect demand. Besides pet stores, they regular ship to zoos and major retailers.

Rohman explains that Reptilian Arts can add equipment to expand its shipping operations with the money from the Senator Edwards Fund. They will upgrade a storage room with HVAC equipment, enabling them to double production for feeder insect breeding. In the future, Rohman hopes to expand further and utilize the second floor of their Mechanic Street storefront, adding 8,000 feet of space.

"The support from the Senator Edwards Fund is a game changer for businesses like ours in Allegany County"

“We’re very excited by this opportunity,” says Rohman. “Our shipping operations are such a critical part of our operations. The support from the Senator Edwards Fund is a game changer for businesses like ours in Allegany County. When you see that so many companies were able to receive funding through that and similar programs, it adds up to a lot of support for local business.”

Reptilian Arts Rohman In New Expansion
Rohman's current location offers him plenty of space to expand and grow his operations.

Rohman’s family has deep roots in Allegany County. His grandfather was Casper R. “Cas” Taylor Jr., a longtime figure in Maryland politics who served as the Speaker of the House of Delegates. To support his grandson’s ventures, the elder Taylor once gave him a dozen snakes. Rohman sees a connection between his grandfather’s political and community service and the opportunities offered to Western Maryland entrepreneurs.

Reptilian Arts Employee Group Photo
Reptilian Arts has a number of employees and hopes to add more with its upcoming expansion.

“When I think of my grandfather, it makes me extremely emotional and proud,” says Rohman. “After his passing, so many people from across the state reached out to say what a profound impact he had on them. He left big shoes to fill. The Fund helps grow businesses, and people like my grandfather established these opportunities. It helps out so much, and it helps our local economy. I hope to do something like my grandfather did one day, but for now, I’m starting locally.”

Read more about other blossoming businesses in Allegany County on our blog.

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